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Biden and Putin spar over cybersecurity, ransomware at Geneva summit

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Ransomware was a major point of discussion for both US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin during their first in-person summit on Wednesday. After the three-hour meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, both leaders held separate press conferences where they hinted at key points of discussions and potential compromise.

Putin denied that Russia was harboring ransomware groups and refused to answer questions about other cyberattacks. Biden was also vague about what was agreed upon between the two leaders but confirmed that he pressed Putin specifically on the issue of ransomware. 

“I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to attack. Period. By cyber or any other means. I gave them a list, 16 specific entities. 16 defined as critical infrastructure,” Biden said.

Tom Kellermann, a member of the US Secret Service’s Cyber Investigations Advisory Board, said the 16 entities Biden was referring to were what CISA has defined as “critical infrastructure sectors.”

Kellermann added that the 16 sectors are chemical, commercial facilities, communications, critical manufacturing, dams, defense industrial base, emergency, energy, financial services, food and agriculture, government facilities, healthcare and public health, information technology, nuclear reactors, materials and waste, transportation systems, water and waste systems.  

All of these sectors have faced dozens of ransomware attacks over the last three years, and Biden said he pushed Putin to understand what the US was going through. He referenced the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, which left parts of the East Coast scrambling for gas for days. 

“I looked at him and said: ‘How would you feel if ransomware took on the pipelines from your oil fields?’ He said: ‘It would matter.’ I pointed out to him that we have significant cyber capability. And he knows it,” Biden said to reporters. 

He went on to say that there were “reputational” consequences to the cyberattacks being leveraged from Russia that Putin was aware of.

The meeting follows a stern warning that was sent out by the US and other G7 countries on Monday that specifically called out Russia for either launching their own cyberattacks or harboring ransomware organizations. 

The G7 said Russia needed to “identify, disrupt, and hold to account those within its borders who conduct ransomware attacks, abuse virtual currency to launder ransoms, and other cyber crimes.”

NATO also sent out a statement after the summit in Brussels reaffirming the idea that “the impact of significant malicious cumulative cyber activities might, in certain circumstances, be considered as amounting to an armed attack.”

Kellermann, who is also head of cybersecurity strategy at VMware, said the summit was “a seminal moment for civilizing cyberspace” and praised Biden for highlighting the need to protect critical industries.

“As a result of this delineation, I believe that significant ransomware attacks against major critical infrastructures will diminish now, but possibly increase against traditional corporations, such as in the retail and financial sectors.”

Many cybersecurity experts said the summit would have little effect on ransomware groups allowed to operate with impunity in a number of countries. 

But the idea that cybersecurity had reached a level of concern worthy of mention among two world leaders was a positive sign for some.

“It was an excellent use of the ‘bully pulpit’ to let the world know that cybersecurity matters to America — and specifically the office of the president. We in the cybersecurity world already have an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ mentality — but it’s healthy to see that our concern is now shared in the prism of leadership, outside of our sector,” said YouAttest CEO Garret Grajek. 

Elena Elkina, a partner at privacy and data protection consulting firm Aleada, noted that Putin does not like demands or being told what to do, and she predicted he would respond to Biden’s forceful talk about cyberattacks in a more understated way. “It will be something more tangible that makes obvious his opinion,” she said. 

Cybersecurity researcher Chloé Messdaghi said the summit was just one manifestation of a deeper cyber Cold War that both countries needed to back down from. While the summit was a good start to addressing the problems between both countries, Messdaghi said formalized pacts around cybersecurity would be hard to come by. 

“The reality is that we may never have absolute and effective treaty-level accords on cyberattacks because so much is done by proxy, but each global superpower must strive to prevent chaos within their borders,” Messdaghi added.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/biden-and-putin-spar-over-cybersecurity-ransomware-at-geneva-summit/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

ZDNET

Industry once again warns Australian government about falling behind in tech

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The Australian Academy of Science has published a policy primer calling for the federal government to place emerging digital technologies higher up the priority list.

“Australia risks falling behind as a technologically-driven nation unless we recognise emerging digital technologies as a central, independent sector in its own right, warranting investment in the core aspects of research, innovation, and workforce development,” the organisation wrote.

In the policy primer [PDF], the government-endorsed, not-for-profit organisation warned that Australia could potentially lag behind global peers, saying other nations such as Canada, France, the UK, and the US have placed more resources towards prioritising digital technologies as a strategy to bolster competitiveness.

Australia’s digital innovation earnings relative to its GDP was almost four percentage points lower than the OECD average of 11.2%, the organisation said.

To address this, the organisation put forward three recommendations that it believes would help Australia’s digital technology capability and innovation keep pace with other countries.

The recommendations are to elevate emerging digital technologies as a national science and innovation priority; include research and innovation in emerging digital technologies in the 2021 Research Infrastructure Roadmap; and recognise emerging digital technologies as an independent growth sector.

The Australian Academy of Science added that more investment is needed towards improving the digital literacy of Australians. Referring to RMIT University’s digital inclusion index, it said Australians with lower income, employment, and education have increasingly fallen behind in this area.

Kaspersky APAC managing director Chris Connell has also pushed for stronger promotion of security awareness and digital education saying that government needed to work more closely with industry to achieve this.

“We’re facing security challenges that put a strain on cybersecurity resources. Investing in cyber talent and promoting security awareness and digital education are the keys to success in building cyber resilient digital societies and economies,” Connell said.

“We need to move from the ‘needs’ to actually delivering on this — if we don’t, and the way the world is changing, there will be more and more risk moving forward.”

While the Australian Academy of Science did note the federal government’s recent digital economy strategy and modern manufacturing strategy were a “welcome signal”, it gave the caveat that government still needed to recognise the importance of building scientific capability behind the digital economy, both from an investment and narrative point of view.

“The national narrative and strategy for Australia’s digital economy needs to address the fundamental importance of building and maintaining scientific capabilities in emerging digital technologies to drive investment and build sovereign capability and capacity,” it wrote.

Following a similar theme, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) a few weeks ago expressed concerns that the federal government was not placing enough resources into commercialising emerging technology, such as quantum computing.

“We are in a position of thought leadership and in some ways, we do lead the way. But our concern is that based on global trends, if we don’t take the steps necessary to maintain our position, and we’re not taking those steps, then we will in fact lose our leadership position, lose our resources, lose our IP, lose our skills, and our thought leaders,” AIIA CEO Ron Gauci said at the time. 

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/industry-once-again-warns-australian-government-about-falling-behind-in-tech/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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ZDNET

Industry once again warns Australian government about falling behind in tech

Published

on

The Australian Academy of Science has published a policy primer calling for the federal government to place emerging digital technologies higher up the priority list.

“Australia risks falling behind as a technologically-driven nation unless we recognise emerging digital technologies as a central, independent sector in its own right, warranting investment in the core aspects of research, innovation, and workforce development,” the organisation wrote.

In the policy primer [PDF], the government-endorsed, not-for-profit organisation warned that Australia could potentially lag behind global peers, saying other nations such as Canada, France, the UK, and the US have placed more resources towards prioritising digital technologies as a strategy to bolster competitiveness.

Australia’s digital innovation earnings relative to its GDP was almost four percentage points lower than the OECD average of 11.2%, the organisation said.

To address this, the organisation put forward three recommendations that it believes would help Australia’s digital technology capability and innovation keep pace with other countries.

The recommendations are to elevate emerging digital technologies as a national science and innovation priority; include research and innovation in emerging digital technologies in the 2021 Research Infrastructure Roadmap; and recognise emerging digital technologies as an independent growth sector.

The Australian Academy of Science added that more investment is needed towards improving the digital literacy of Australians. Referring to RMIT University’s digital inclusion index, it said Australians with lower income, employment, and education have increasingly fallen behind in this area.

Kaspersky APAC managing director Chris Connell has also pushed for stronger promotion of security awareness and digital education saying that government needed to work more closely with industry to achieve this.

“We’re facing security challenges that put a strain on cybersecurity resources. Investing in cyber talent and promoting security awareness and digital education are the keys to success in building cyber resilient digital societies and economies,” Connell said.

“We need to move from the ‘needs’ to actually delivering on this — if we don’t, and the way the world is changing, there will be more and more risk moving forward.”

While the Australian Academy of Science did note the federal government’s recent digital economy strategy and modern manufacturing strategy were a “welcome signal”, it gave the caveat that government still needed to recognise the importance of building scientific capability behind the digital economy, both from an investment and narrative point of view.

“The national narrative and strategy for Australia’s digital economy needs to address the fundamental importance of building and maintaining scientific capabilities in emerging digital technologies to drive investment and build sovereign capability and capacity,” it wrote.

Following a similar theme, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) a few weeks ago expressed concerns that the federal government was not placing enough resources into commercialising emerging technology, such as quantum computing.

“We are in a position of thought leadership and in some ways, we do lead the way. But our concern is that based on global trends, if we don’t take the steps necessary to maintain our position, and we’re not taking those steps, then we will in fact lose our leadership position, lose our resources, lose our IP, lose our skills, and our thought leaders,” AIIA CEO Ron Gauci said at the time. 

Related Coverage

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/industry-once-again-warns-australian-government-about-falling-behind-in-tech/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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ZDNET

Westpac has blocked 24,000 abusive messages in payments

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Westpac said it has managed to block some 24,000 transactions that were deemed as abusive payments.

In its environment, social, and governance strategy update, the bank also noted it required 19,000 customers to change the language they used in transaction descriptions before their payments could be accepted and processed.

The bank added it issued more than 800 warning letters and account suspensions and reported more than 70 customers to authorities for abusive payments.  

The bank announced earlier in the year it would not tolerate any messages containing abuse being sent in transaction descriptions. Terms considered inappropriate by the bank range from swear words through to domestic violence threats.

“We want to create a safer digital banking experience for our customers and send a clear signal that abusive messages in payment transactions will not be tolerated,” Westpac general manager of customer solutions Lisa Pogonoski previously said.

To contain such behaviour, the red and black bank rolled out a new tool enabling customers to report abuse and harassment received in the payment transaction description for inbound payments.

The bank also deployed technology to monitor outgoing payments sent through its online and mobile banking platforms, which blocks certain transactions containing inappropriate or offensive language in real-time.

In other updates, Westpac highlighted that in relation to its Customer Outcomes and Risk Excellence (CORE) program, it has completed 104 out of 327 planned activities designed to uplift the bank’s management and governance of risk. These included upgrading its transaction screen software and settings, identifying data points and establishing automated reconciliations and checks, using analytics to improve detection, and improving risk reporting through a new insights platform.

For the first half the 2022 financial year, Westpac highlighted tech expenses increased AU$40 million, attributing part of the rise was relating to the CORE program. This was off the back of a profit increase, posting AU$3.4 billion.  

IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW IN AUSTRALIA NEEDS HELP CONTACT ONE OF THESE SERVICES:

  • National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 737 732
  • MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
  • Headspace on 1800 650 890
  • In an emergency or if you’re not feeling safe, always call 000

MORE FROM WESTPAC

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/westpac-has-blocked-24000-abusive-messages-in-payments/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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ZDNET

Westpac has blocked 24,000 abusive messages in payments

Published

on

Westpac said it has managed to block some 24,000 transactions that were deemed as abusive payments.

In its environment, social, and governance strategy update, the bank also noted it required 19,000 customers to change the language they used in transaction descriptions before their payments could be accepted and processed.

The bank added it issued more than 800 warning letters and account suspensions and reported more than 70 customers to authorities for abusive payments.  

The bank announced earlier in the year it would not tolerate any messages containing abuse being sent in transaction descriptions. Terms considered inappropriate by the bank range from swear words through to domestic violence threats.

“We want to create a safer digital banking experience for our customers and send a clear signal that abusive messages in payment transactions will not be tolerated,” Westpac general manager of customer solutions Lisa Pogonoski previously said.

To contain such behaviour, the red and black bank rolled out a new tool enabling customers to report abuse and harassment received in the payment transaction description for inbound payments.

The bank also deployed technology to monitor outgoing payments sent through its online and mobile banking platforms, which blocks certain transactions containing inappropriate or offensive language in real-time.

In other updates, Westpac highlighted that in relation to its Customer Outcomes and Risk Excellence (CORE) program, it has completed 104 out of 327 planned activities designed to uplift the bank’s management and governance of risk. These included upgrading its transaction screen software and settings, identifying data points and establishing automated reconciliations and checks, using analytics to improve detection, and improving risk reporting through a new insights platform.

For the first half the 2022 financial year, Westpac highlighted tech expenses increased AU$40 million, attributing part of the rise was relating to the CORE program. This was off the back of a profit increase, posting AU$3.4 billion.  

IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW IN AUSTRALIA NEEDS HELP CONTACT ONE OF THESE SERVICES:

  • National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 737 732
  • MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
  • Headspace on 1800 650 890
  • In an emergency or if you’re not feeling safe, always call 000

MORE FROM WESTPAC

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/westpac-has-blocked-24000-abusive-messages-in-payments/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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